With the cancellation of the Lotto Belgium Tour a week before the race was due to be held this year, Lotte Kopecky is getting some racing in by racing against the junior men’s peloton in Belgum. She was expected to take on her home tour but that race couldn’t guarantee the safety of riders due to a lack of race marshalls (or signalmen as they’re often called in Belgium). A number of conflicting events took away the availability of what is a paid position, rather than the volunteers often employed in say British races.
With the cancellation, it opened up a sudden gap in the race calendar of the leading Belgian rider. Kopecky confirmed that she would fill it with races against junior men in an attempt to get some of that race intensity before the national championships, the Tour de France Femmes and the World Championships in Glasgow this year.
Yesterday, Lotte Kopecky rode the Grand Prix Brieks Broodhoek, a small race held in Wetteren-ten-Ede, just to the southeast of Gent. She breezed in, avoided interviews but signed plenty of autographs for fans, spoke to the crowd on the loudspeaker about it being the ideal preparation for the World Championships and got on with the racing.
The race ended up with the 16-year-old Kiany de Paepe taking the victory, but Lotte Kopecky did a solid job by finishing within the peloton in 22nd place and quickly left afterwards. It will be a small footnote in her career but something that will no doubt be mentioned if she achieves her goal of becoming world champion later on this season.
“Do I find Lotte’s participation enjoyable? Absolutely! We are proud to have someone like her participating. It attracts more spectators, but it certainly makes the race much more nerve-wracking for the organisers. No, if we did start doing that [paying start money]… we did, however, buy her a bouquet of flowers.”Dirk Fack, race organiser
Main photo credit: Ivi